Social worker

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Social                                                                                                         Facts and Figures
                                                                                                               Starting salary                                               Did you know?
                                                                                                                                                                             Social work officially came into
 worker                                                                                                        Between £21,000 and £25,000.

                                                                                                               Working hours
                                                                                                                                                                             existence in local authorities in the
                                                                                                               Typically 37.
                                                                                                                                                                             1970s, but it originated in the 19th
                                                                                                                                                                             century as philanthropists worked
                                                                                                               Days’ holiday per year                                        alongside courts, hospitals and
                                                                                                               26 – 36.
                                                                                                                                                                             workhouses to tackle the problems
                                                                                                               Skills and experience                                         of the poor.
                                                                                                               Empathy, the ability to communicate with a wide range
                                                                                                               of people and understand their needs and wishes are
Social work is all about helping people            Degree needed                                               essential qualities.
who are finding life tough. If you choose          Social workers qualify by taking either an undergraduate
this career, you might be helping to               social work degree or a shorter postgraduate course, and    Would suit
                                                   they must register with the General Social Care Council.    Those who are good with people and have a strong            Number of people employed in this field
protect children from abuse or to keep                                                                         desire to help others to improve their lives are likely
                                                   There are bursaries for full and part-time students.                                                                    The General Social Care Council has registered more than
young offenders out of prison. Your                                                                            to enjoy social work.                                       90,000 social workers and student social workers.
clients might be the elderly, people with          From September 2007, newly qualified social workers will
                                                                                                               Likely employer types
mental health problems or disabilities,            have to complete their post-qualification award in social
                                                                                                               • Local authorities
drug users, alcoholics or truants. All sorts       work within two years of qualifying. There are also                                                                     More information
                                                                                                               • Charities
                                                   numerous on-the-job training courses for those wanting                                                                  • The Department of Health’s social work recruitment
of people need the understanding ear                                                                           • Privately run care homes
                                                   to specialise in particular areas of social work, such                                                                    website has information about careers in social work
and practical help of a social worker at                                                                       • Prisons and hospitals
                                                   as mental health.                                                                                               
                                                                                                               • Recruitment agencies
some stage of their lives. A social worker
can act as an advocate or friend, guiding                                                                      How many jobs available?                                    • The General Social Care Council oversees professional
clients through the law or benefits                Good courses                                                Demand varies. Child protection teams and local               standards for social workers
system, dealing with other professionals,          • BSc social work (University of the West of England)       authorities in London have historically had staff
                                                   • BA and MA Social Work (Goldsmiths College, University     shortages, but the problem is less acute in other           • The British Association of Social Workers represents
keeping accurate records and sometimes               of London)                                                areas, according to the British Association of Social         many social workers
giving evidence in court.                          • BA Social Work (Manchester Metropolitan University)       Workers (BASW).
                                                   • BA Social Work (University of Birmingham)
                                                                                                               A 2005 survey for the Improvement and Development
                                                                                                               Agency, which works with local authorities, found
                                                                                                               88.8 per cent of councils struggled to recruit children’s
                                                                                                               social workers and 72.5 per cent had trouble finding
                                                                                                               social workers for adults.

                                                                                                                      Meet the expert
                                                                                                                      Simon Bream,                                         “Social work is tough but it’s
                                                                                                                      Lambeth Youth                                        worthwhile. You have to be
     Simon Bream at work                                                                                              Offending Team
                                                                                                                                                                           determined, well organised,
     Social worker, Lambeth Youth Offending Team
                                                                                                                                                                           thoughtful, caring and motivated by
                                                                                                               Visit                                       making things better for other people
                                                                                                               to watch video diaries
                                                                                                               and get opinions from                                       rather than by getting rich yourself.”
                                                                                                               other real people doing
                                                                                                               real jobs.

                                                                            Your career
                                                                                        – our future           Some careers are more than just a job… Find out more at             

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